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Cyclists slam controversial council’s plan to combat “terrible rate of cycling casualties” – by installing non-protected, painted cycle lanes

The local authority says the advisory lane will “allow space for everyone” and “strike the right balance” by having “very little impact on traffic”

Just months after the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) was labelled “embarrassing” and its councillors “dinosaurs” for installing a painted, advisory cycle lane on sections of a road where protected cycling infrastructure had been ripped out two years previously, cycling campaigners are once again up in arms over the local authority’s decision to paint another advisory lane that it says will allow “space for everyone” – but that activists claim will do nothing to combat the “terrible rate of cycling casualties” in the area.

Advisory cycle lanes are set to be painted next week on Fulham Road, a busy thoroughfare in west London, after a council consultation found that 71 percent of residents were in favour of the scheme.

The local authority claims the painted cycle lane will “strike the right balance” on Fulham Road by making room for cyclists while also keeping motor traffic “moving”. However, the London Cycling Campaign has argued that the infrastructure is “nowhere near adequate” to keep people safe.

The new lane comes hot on the heels of a similar initiative from RBCK on Kensington High Street, which saw the introduction of “broken (dashed) painted white line” cycle lanes that the council said can be “used by vehicles other than pedal cycles when clear” in July – just over two years after segregated infrastructure was controversially scrapped by the local authority on the same road, prompting an ultimately unsuccessful High Court legal challenge by cycling campaigners who claimed the protected lane’s removal was “premature”.

The belated decision to introduce advisory lanes on the congested route was dismissed as “embarrassing” by local cyclists, while broadcaster and cycling advocate Jeremy Vine wrote on social media that the council “can shove this up their exhaust pipe”.

> "Is this a joke?": Cyclists dismayed at council's idea for painted cycle lanes where segregated infrastructure was controversially ripped out

However, this week the controversial council has said that the advisory lanes on Kensington High Street have offered a “good introduction” for similar schemes in the borough, due to the observation that they have had “very little impact on traffic”.

“This new painted cycle lane allows space for everyone who uses our roads as we aim to become a greener, safer, and fairer borough,” Conservative councillor Cem Kemahli, the borough’s lead member for planning and the public realm, said.

“We’ve had a good introduction on Kensington High Street with a similar scheme, where there has been very little impact on traffic.

“As with any works, there may be some minor disruption while we get the paint on the ground, but the design has been created to strike the right balance between making room for cyclists and keeping Fulham Road moving.”

> Motor traffic journey times increase after Kensington cycle lanes removed

Unsurprisingly, the extension of the non-segregated infrastructure to Fulham Road has been criticised by the London Cycling Campaign, who have argued – despite the council’s claims – that a “dotted line in paint” will do little to encourage people to take up cycling in the area or address the “terrible rate” of casualties on the roads, with seven cyclists killed this year in London alone.

“The advisory cycle lanes on Fulham Road are a step in the right direction, but on an A-road with such a high volume of motor traffic, a dotted line in paint is nowhere near adequate to keep people cycling safe or to encourage new people to start cycling,” the group’s spokesperson told the Evening Standard.

“We want to see these lanes upgraded as soon as possible with physical protection, such as bollards or wands.

“Kensington and Chelsea Council has a long way to go to tackle the terrible rate of cycling casualties on their roads, the worst in inner London, so in our view this work can’t start soon enough.”

Kensington High Street

> Council says it “did not manipulate data” after cycling campaigners accused it of ignoring advice in order to controversially shelve bike lane

London Cycling Campaign’s call for safer cycling infrastructure in Kensington and Chelsea comes just under three years since the group described the decision to scrap the segregated infrastructure on Kensington High Street in late 2020 as “shameful, callous, and retrograde”.

Then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson was also said to have been “ballistic” over the lane’s removal, which sparked a series of protests by local cyclists, and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan urged the council to reinstate it after an independent survey found that almost twice as many people who live in the borough supported having the protected cycle lane than those opposed to it.

In March this year, the council won a protracted High Court case, brought by campaigners who claimed the lane’s removal had been “premature”, while in May RBKC insisted it “did not manipulate data” after cycling activists accused it of ignoring advice in order to controversially shelve the scheme.

Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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13 comments

Avatar
wtjs | 8 months ago
2 likes

It's about time for a new Hitler rage parody- it only needs a small change from the original with RBKC replacing Nick Griffin: These RBKC Tories are giving the Nazis a bad name!  As remarked below, they really are just making linear car parks with active travel money so that their Tory pals can park their Chelsea Tractors closer to Nando's (whatever that is). Any cycle lane without double yellows is an open invitation to park

Avatar
Saucepan | 8 months ago
10 likes

So out of touch! I ride the C9 heading to High Street Kensington which is hands down the most dangerous part of my daily commute. The council is woefully out of touch

id love for one the councillors to cycle ride the street during rush hour

 

Avatar
neilmck | 8 months ago
5 likes

As people have said they have created a car park. A disaster for motorists as they have reduced the road from two lanes to one creating congestion without benefiting cyclists

Avatar
Argos74 | 8 months ago
15 likes

Quote:

“broken (dashed) painted white line” cycle lanes that the council said can be “used by vehicles other than pedal cycles when clear”

Car park. That's a car park. They built a car park using active travel money. Unless there's enforcement and penalties for parking in the bike lane, it's not a bike lane, it's a car park, and shouldn't have a penny of active travel budget used for it.

Avatar
Jakrayan replied to Argos74 | 8 months ago
8 likes

As it's a broken white line, unless there are yellow (or red clearway) lines at the kerbside then parking there isn't actually illegal as far as I am aware. In which case the chances of enforcement and penalties are less than zero unfortunately. A complete joke. 

Avatar
Muddy Ford | 8 months ago
10 likes

A painted cycle lane will make it even more dangerous for cyclists, because drivers will park or drive in them which will block them and drivers following cyclists will ignorantly expect all cyclists to be using them, giving no consideration for any cyclist that has to veer into the 'drivers' lane. This council couldn't give a flying fuck about cyclist safety, all their constituents that they want to please are driving around in huge botoxed 4x4s

Avatar
mctrials23 replied to Muddy Ford | 8 months ago
3 likes

The other issue with cycle lanes is that drivers seem to think that once you are in that lane the usual rules on overtaking space doesn't apply. The lane isn't even 1.5m wide and as long as they aren't in it, they think its OK. 

Avatar
brooksby replied to mctrials23 | 8 months ago
1 like

mctrials23 wrote:

The other issue with cycle lanes is that drivers seem to think that once you are in that lane the usual rules on overtaking space doesn't apply. The lane isn't even 1.5m wide and as long as they aren't in it, they think its OK. 

It's a little OT, but still:

I was having an interesting chat with my wife about that at the weekend.  We were walking our dog back through the village, uphill on a section where the footway is no more than a metre wide, adjacent to the main road through the village.  Officially there's a 20mph limit, but this is often ignored.

I was telling her that the HC says give 2 metres of clearance when passing a pedestrian at less than 30mph, and then pointed out how very close the cars were being driven past us on this path (it's one of those paths where you keep expecting to be clipped by a wing mirror).

She said that no car coming along there could give that much clearance unless they moved into the other lane, "like overtaking".

I asked how much protection from the wing mirror of a bus travelling at 20-30 mph she thought that a two inch high kerb would provide...?

Avatar
brooksby replied to Muddy Ford | 8 months ago
2 likes

Muddy Ford wrote:

A painted cycle lane will make it even more dangerous for cyclists, because drivers will park or drive in them which will block them and drivers following cyclists will ignorantly expect all cyclists to be using them, giving no consideration for any cyclist that has to veer into the 'drivers' lane. This council couldn't give a flying fuck about cyclist safety, all their constituents that they want to please are driving around in huge botoxed 4x4s

Is a botoxed SUV even more rigid than a normal one?  3

Avatar
Andrewbanshee | 8 months ago
2 likes

It is about time that people who cycle start to form a cycling lobby for real. Perhaps have an offshoot that is a bit more.. aggressive to encourage decision makers to listen and respond to the more reasonable voices.

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chrisonabike replied to Andrewbanshee | 8 months ago
3 likes

According to the press (GB news, Rod Lidl...) didn't we already do that? And according to some isn't the nation already under the thumb of the cycling zealots?

But if it's a militant wing you're looking for surely we can rely on Jeremy Vine to drive the government into urgent talks with Chris Boardman and Timmy Mallet.

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Rome73 replied to Andrewbanshee | 8 months ago
4 likes

The London Cycling Campaign is a lobby / campaign group. You could start by joining them.  They do a very good job. 

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eburtthebike | 8 months ago
10 likes

“This new painted cycle lane allows space for everyone who uses our roads as we aim to become a greener, safer, and fairer borough,” Conservative councillor Cem Kemahli, the borough’s lead member for planning and the public realm, said.

Greener?  Safer? Fairer?  Oh, he's a conservative, so his definition of those words are different to everyone else's, in fact the direct opposite of their dictionary listings.

“We’ve had a good introduction on Kensington High Street with a similar scheme, where there has been very little impact on traffic.

Well, there wouldn't be much impact on cycle traffic as they haven't made it safer or more attractive, or did he mean just motorised traffic?  It wouldn't have affected that either as they completely ignore it.

While I hope that there won't be any serious bicycle collisions on this new piece of farcical "infrastructure" I also hope that when a collision inevitably occurs, the council and this councillor are sued for failing to make their roads safe, and knowingly installing something which will not protect cyclists.

 

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